Hi, my name is Amy and I'm the owner/operator/primary caregiver at Child Central Station in Marquette, Michigan. This past May, I started a blog: http://www.childcentralstation.blogspot.com/ I am still learning and experimenting with the "blog world" and this is my first guest posting! Thanks for having me.
Although my blog primarily focuses on activities from my home-based childcare, I also share some of our homeschooling activities and family outings. My husband Allan and I run the childcare together and homeschooling our 8-year old son Dane works out great. It means that we get to spend a lot of quality time together.
If you would have told me years ago that I would be running a home based childcare with extended hours, I would have thought that you were crazy! I graduated from Northern Michigan University with a degree in psychology. I thought that I wanted to become a therapist and work with children doing art and play therapy. After careful consideration, I realized that I would not be able to leave my work at work, my heart would be too heavy from working. So, I opted to look into the possibility of opening my own childcare. A few months later (August 2005) Child Central Station was born.
In addition to running the childcare, being a mom and a wife, I am a graduate student. I hope to complete my degree in Training, Development, and Performance Improvement in the near future. I only have 4 credits to complete! I also volunteer as one of the co-coordinators for the Upper Peninsula Early Childhood Conference Committee, I help out with Dane's boy scout troop, and I assist in coordinating Adventures In Storytelling retreats. "Spare" time doesn't really exist, but I enjoy making time for my own arts and crafts. As a family we love to travel, play games and watch movies.
One of my favorite types of activities is to repurpose or upcycle items. My most popular early posts had to do with what you can do with markers that don't work. Here are a few of the marker caps we made into finger/pinky puppets:
The repurposing/upcycling of items triggered me to start hosting a blog hop on Wednesdays entitled: "What Would You Do With It?" Each week features a different item and allows readers to add their own posts and ideas to use the featured item. (I was running this every other week toward the end of last year, but will be running it weekly again!) I really love that we can find and share so many great inexpensive ideas on how to reuse "garbage."
Another area that I like to focus on is our outdoor play area. We have been trying to encourage more outdoor play and have been working to make our backyard into more of an outdoor classroom than a playground. We have a long wish list and it is far complete, but we are getting there! I have been finding a lot of inspiration from all around the world. I love the sense of community and all of the online sharing that has been taking place. Every time I hop online, I am finding new ideas and inspiration to make our learning spaces more engaging!
Last summer, we raised monarch butterflies for the first time. I was so surprised at how long the children remained interested and engaged in learning and observing! We raised butterflies almost all summer long! The children participated in a wide array of caterpillar and butterfly arts and crafts, we made up our own songs, and spent hours observing the caterpillars and butterflies. I even compiled a small video for my learning technologies class on the life cycle of butterflies.
This upcoming spring/summer we plan to observe the life cycle of frogs :). I can't wait!
We live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where we have snowy winters! We like to spend time sledding and enjoying outdoor activities!
Spray bottles filled with colored water work well too!